Growing up in Scottsdale, the number one most beautiful city in the nation, is no easy feat for a woman. Just by sheer temperature restrictions, it’s hard not to be insecure about any part of your body when you can’t cover anything up (sundresses all day, all night for months at a time!). Add local pressure to be wrinkle-less until your dead and national pressure to look like a Victoria’s Secret model, and you’re really scrutinizing yourself now. Anyway, I think I’ve made my point: Scottsdale is labeled perfectly beautiful, and every woman here believes she has to be perfect, too.
I was extremely lucky to grow up with a naturally beautiful mom, who rarely wore makeup and (to my knowledge, or at least not in front of me) never complained about things like her smile wrinkles or the freckles from extra hours hiking or playing in the sun without reapplying sunscreen. She drove home the idea that when you take good care of your body and you have fun doing it (herein sprouted my love for cooking and being outdoors hiking, biking, running, whatever) there’s no one or nothing in the world that should influence the way you feel about yourself. Growing up in a Christian home too, I believe, made a huge difference in my self-confidence. Christian leaders, friends and the bible instruct you to not judge, but instead just take good care of your body because God gave it to you as a “temple,” and it’s the only one you’re going to get. All worldly things in perspective, it’s well preached that helping others is a significantly better use of your time than picking at your waistline.
Still, even with these great encouraging influences, there were days and still are days when I am overly self-conscious about my body image. I matured much, much faster than all my friends, so for the longest time I hated my legs and my hips and my nose, you name it… 12 to 14-years-old was not awesome. Around that time, my best friend started having eating problems and – even though I admitted to her I knew what it was like to be unhappy with your body – I discouraged her from continuing and had to tell her that if she continued to hurt herself I would have to talk to her parents. Of course, I’m sure all women know, that didn’t go over so well. Our friendship suffered. It was hard for me to let watch my best friend fade away knowing full well I could just turn my head and be her friend again, but I knew in my heart it was better to try to help her recover and loose our friendship than to let her hurt herself and potentially lose her life. I did loose her as a friend, but she’s still alive, graduated from college, and doing very well. She’s not the only friend I’ve battled this with over the years, nor will she be the last, and I’m sad to say there is at least one I know who is still having problems.
So, here’s why I support the Phoenix Eating Disorder Walk: I want girls and women to know it’s not OK to purposefully not eat (or over eat), not exercise (or over exercise), hate yourself and/or obsess over the way God (and, let’s face it, your parents) made you.
I want girls to never believe those articles that say top models eat healthy and exercise comfortably; their figures are literally not attainable without a very certain set of genes and health restrictions. Not only do most top models abuse and fatigue their body, makeup artists layer them with pounds of makeup and then photographers edit still their body to pieces – no matter how beautiful they are naturally. I want girls and women to know the man they want to fall in love with will not fall in love with them solely because they fit in a size 25″ jeans – in fact, most men don’t even know what that means and really don’t want to hear you complain about your body anyway. I want girls and women to know life is bigger than what you look like.
Emily Timm is the Marketing Project Manager for VUUR, a biking and hiking enthusiast, a photographer, and an avid reader. She has a history of broadcast journalism, web production, modeling and has been published in hundreds of blogs on marketing strategies. In her spare time she enjoys cooking, writing, traveling, photography, and adventure.